The support for local Farmers’ Markets in the US is very different from here. To get an idea how seriously they’re treated by all levels of foodies, take a look at the regular LA Times Market Watch column by David Karp. In the entry about those Adriatic Figs above, he says
“This seems to be a banner season for figs, which are practically made for farmers markets, since they are only at their best when fully ripe, at which point they are too perishable to ship commercially. The Adriatic variety, with thin green skin and strawberry flesh that’s so sweet it’s almost like jam at peak ripeness, is one of the most luscious of figs but rarely encountered fresh, even at farmers markets, because of this fragility; most go to make dried figs and fig paste.”
Karp then goes on to talk about the grower, the people who wait for weeks for the couple of market days when the fruit is at its best. This isn’t marginal information, this is obviously of interest to many readers of the major Los Angeles newspaper and a highly popular web version. It’s well written and always has his photographs. Sure we have Helen Greenwood’s column in the Sydney Morning Herald ‘Good Living’ but it’s missing online as if even the mainstream fresh produce information is not considered interesting. The Farmers’ Market movement here suffers in many regions by not being a regular weekly event, and in some areas, closes in winter. It’s hard to build involved customers when it’s not the place they shop by choice for fresh food each week. It’s hard for growers too, trying to build a regular business. You get the feeling that many are still just playing with the direct-to-customer idea for the bits they’ve got left over. The public deserve to see how an alternative to commercial marketing works. And we deserve the same kind of respectful writing and promotion here.
(Of course any coverage could end up as badly as this bizarre photo story the SMH did on Victorian Farmer’s Markets (‘sic’ ). Random text from the original story is used as captions that don’t make any sense against the pictures!